Here’s one way to know an anti-union bill has gone too far: when it draws the opposition of not just a local sheriff and Martin Luther King III, but of tea partiers. That is the case with Georgia’s SB 469, which would impose large fines on various types of labor-related picketing. The Atlanta Tea party sent an email to its members opposing the bill, and tea partiers joined union members testifying against it at a state House committee hearing.
Tea party activist Debbie Dooley was among those testifying:
“Labor unions have First Amendment rights just like Tea Parties,” Dooley says. “I don’t see how you can say it’s OK for one group to go and protest in front of CNN but a labor union can’t.”
Her testimony, along with the Tea Party revolt, may have made a difference. The next day, the 35th day of Georgia’s 40-day legislative session, the Industrial Relations Committee canceled a planned vote on SB 469.
It’s not clear if the bill is completely dead, but there’s little time left for the state House to pass it in this session. Dooley and other tea party people say, though, that if it was rewritten to be less broad and vague, they wouldn’t oppose it; to the extent that their opposition tipped the scales against it, a similar bill could come back in a future session of the legislature, incorporating the changes needed to avoid tea party opposition so that Republican legislators could screw over union and other labor protesters without angering anyone they actually care about.